An Essay by Armory College Prep Senior Mazie Alexander

If I thought the first application was bad, this was worse.  I felt overwhelmed and a little discouraged.

Last year around this time I applied for the QuestBridge College Prep Scholars Program, which gives outstanding low-income high school juniors a chance to compete for a full four-year award through the QuestBridge College Match Scholarship Program.  If selected a student has an early advantage in being matched at one of thirty eight of the nation's most selective colleges. I was lucky enough to be chosen in May 2016 as a College Prep Scholar and was given an opportunity to take part in the QuestBridge Yale Conference. Now, as a contender to become a QuestBridge finalist, the requirements increased.

Instead of one 650 word essay, there were two essays, one asking for 650 words and another for 800 words. They were both personal essays and required a lot of self reflection, as well as nine other questions that specified lengths between 200 characters and 200 words. And, this only covered the writing portion. The rest of the application required me to go into extreme detail about school and my family.

My ACP mentor, Mary Rose, and I decided to set up a schedule. I came in every day in September straight after school. I would leave school at 1:00PM and arrive at The Armory at 2:30PM and I would leave between 6PM and 8PM. It would take me around half an hour to verbally process my thoughts around a question.  I did research to be able to understand the science behind my interest in neurobiology.  The more I explored the field, the more I was drawn to becoming part of this world.  At times, I felt overwhelmed by how much I didn’t know, but I learned to manage the roller coaster ride of my expectations.  I realized that I had grown both intellectually, as well as emotionally since the previous spring.  I addressed elements of my story that I hadn’t been ready to articulate a few months before. The deadline was September 27th and I wanted to have as perfect an application as possible.  On September 26th I hit submit and said to myself that it was out of my hands.

I also continued working on college applications outside of QuestBridge because I knew that I had to have a backup plan. I continued coming to The Armory after school to send in early action college applications and prepare for regular decision college applications. All of my mentors felt that I had a good chance at becoming a QuestBridge finalist, but I wasn’t sure.

Late in October I received an email to check my application status and I learned that I was a QuestBridge finalist. There were over 11,000 applicants and less that 6,000 became finalists. Here was the challenging part. On November 1st the Common Application was due for the colleges that I ranked. I had to prepare multiple essays and short response answers in less than two weeks. I ranked Williams in my top three choices.  After I submitted my application, the only thing left to do was wait. December 1st was the day that QuestBridge would release their decisions. While I was on my way to The Armory, I received a notification to check my application status. My heart started beating fast and I told myself that no matter the results, I would be okay. I was with my best friend Jasmine when I opened the email. The first word I read was congratulations! I was shocked and speechless. I realized how significant this was for myself and my family. I would be going to college on a full ride for the next four years. It felt like a breath of fresh air. I was one of the 16 students selected out of over 700 students that ranked Williams. Now, I am  preparing for the next step on my scholarly journey.  I couldn’t have gotten to this point, being accepted into one of the world’s top liberal arts colleges, Williams College, without the unceasing care and attention of Armory College Prep.